The closer we get to the election, the louder the question resonates: what have Liberal Democrats brought to government? In all the compromises and stresses of coalition, has our difference made it all worthwhile?
In the area of civil liberties, so important to us as a party, the answer must be a resounding ‘yes’. Of course not all the coalition battles around freedom have taken place in public, but they have been fiercely fought nonetheless- sustained, difficult struggles against the Tories and parts of the Whitehall machine, to keep our country loyal to its most enduring values in the face of terrorism and risk.
The appetite of the securocrats for more and more surveillance, more and more powers, ever-greater intrusion into everyday lives, appears at times to be almost without limit. As Director of Public Prosecutions during a period of intense terrorist threats following 9/11 and our tragically misconceived invasion of Iraq, I saw at first hand the extent to which politicians, even government ministers, would abdicate their responsibilities in this area. Too often they bowed down and failed to fulfil their most important role: to scrutinise.
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